Does this prove Centrelink needs a complete overhaul? 444

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The way Centrelink operates is interesting to say the least… The system is more often unsuccessful than successful; you go in roundabouts between the person at the end of the phone (after a 80 minute wait) and the self-service facilities online. When you get told to come into your centre you have to book an appointment and the next available appointment is during work hours in six weeks!

Any customer or user of Centrelink services can see that there’s some serious problems in the way it all works, but could this perhaps be the most blatant example of just how poorly things are managed?

According to the Daily Mail, a 70-year-old grandmother from Townsville has cheated the Centrelink system for 20 years by claiming her dead mothers’ pension! The system has paid her $254,440 in payments as she took them in her mothers’ name – on top of her own pension.

Yes, this woman was rorting the system and has taken valuable dollars that could have funded someone else’s pension. However, the real problem lies in the fact that Centrelink does not currently have the systems or management in place to actually monitor and control their own payments – is there no balance book at the end of each month?

We live in a day where our government is skimping and saving on whatever they can. The last two budgets have seen numerous cuts to fund the things that really need it, but is enough being done to actually tighten government spending within government organisations?

Social welfare is one of the highest expenses for the government, in fact last year it was the highest spend for every tax payer dollar. So could this amount be reduced if Centrelink had some kind of audit and actually refined and logically ordered their processes?

Tell us today, have you used Centrelink and found it difficult? Have you had problems with them before? Share your thoughts in the comments below… 

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  1. I know of several pensioners who are claiming an English pension as well as Australian ,with no reductions ,but if we earn any monies we have to declare it ???

    8 REPLY
    • If the english pension is paid similar to the nz pension then that person is getting the same amount as everyone else ie our nz pension is based on the number of working years we lived there and the aust pension is reduced accordingly.

    • We get a measly bit of UK pension. And yes it’s counted in and adjusts the Aussie PART pension we get. Had to declare everything when we got ours.

    • As an ex Centrelink Employee I can say these overseas pensions ARE taken into account. And they are often only small amounts based on their working life.

    • Provided you have advised Centrelink of your intended O/S trip then your return date should also be recorded. Data is matched with the Department of Immigration, however this is not instant.

      1 REPLY
    • Those that are entitled to an English pension are required to claim it. It is a reciprocal agreement with Uk and Aus. ( there are other countries also) Centrelink payments are adjusted according to the amount of foreign pension recieved.

    • I receive a percentage of the English pension, but no increases that a resident Briton receives, and why should I, I have lived and worked in Australia for 40 years and have not contributed to Britains’ Social System. The Australian Government makes up the balance as I am a citizen of Australia. I am sure you cannot claim both, but perhaps there is something I don’t know.

    • NNNOT ONE person on here wants to talk about yj 250000 stolen Australia all right don’t care about rorters unless they are rich ..why it is taxpayers money ?

    • If you get a British pension or any part of one it is counted BEFORE your Australian pension is calculated. Like any other asset. I know, because my husband gets a small amount for the years he worked in the UK before migrating. It will remain the same amount, no increases, until he dies. If people are claiming full amounts of both, then they are cheating. Not sure how you can do that but then I am never sure how people manage to cheat Centrelink at all, it;s too complicated trying to get entitlements let alone what you are NOT entitled to. I do think they should be able to find out more easily those who are rorting and stop them PERMANENTLY. Once you have defrauded you shold not be entitled again for however many years worth you have stolen.
      Individual staff members at Centrelink offices are generally kind and helpful, they don’t make the rules, but we have met some who are unfriendly and far too brusque. I appreciate they need to do their jobs and it must suck some days, but every customer deserves to be treated with respect if they show respect to the staff member.

      1 REPLY
      • I am Scottish born. I’ve lived in Australia 50 years and I’m an Australian citizen. When m late husband and i retired I had to apply for part British pension which center link make compulsary. My Australian pension was suspended when I didn’t apply quick enough although it was reinstated later. I didn’t get the British pension because I hadn’t worked long enough there. I was on full Australian pension when I turned 61 my husband was on partner alloiwance. However when my husband turned 65 and was receiving the full Australian pension he had to apply for the British pension which he gets part. I also got part because of his contribution to the British pension system although a lower amount. When my husband died I still received part british pension. You have to declare everything and what I get in my British pension which is a very small amount is allowed. So I can’t see how anyone can get away with getting both full pensions. You even have to declare everything to the British.

  2. If Centerlink and the Dept of Immigration records are linked (so we were told) then how do they have me still out of Australia 6 weeks after I returned?

    3 REPLY
    • Same thing happened to me Doreen! It’s a nightmare trying to sort out anything! Got there in the end, but it took a lot of time.

    • Same thing happened to my husband and I Doris. Ours was two months after we came back.

    • Provided you advise Centrelink of your intended O/S travel then your return date will also be recorded. Data is matched with the Department of Immigration however is is not instant.

      1 REPLY
      • I i tried to tell Centrelink of my overseas travel, but was advised it was no longer necessary if under 3 months, as they would be aware through Dept of Immigration records.

  3. if they were in private enterprise, they wouldn’t last long. They couldn’t run a chook raffle. I bet the management are pulling a rediculously high salary too. Needs a big broom to go through that place from top to bottom.

    7 REPLY
    • A bit of a myth that the private sector is better. Look at the rorts in the job search area. CES may not have been great but they didn’t defraud people with dodgy employment schemes and other fraud. I’ve worked in both government and private sector. Yes there are inefficient managers in the public service but so is there in the private sector. Often as a customer too I deal with businesses that seem to actively work towards alienating all their customers.

    • Personally I think if you have a brain you would not be employed by them because they would be worried you would use it and not ‘toe the line’

    • What private enterprise deals with these amounts if clients and money and social issues and cluents with health and mental problems. They are abused daily by drug addicts and people who have nothing better to do.
      No private agency would take them on.

    • I have always found Centrelink staff to be very courteous and helpful. Occasional stuff up but sorted out as soon as they could and as kindly as they could. Have always found staff to be empathetic and caring people.

    • you are very lucky Sue, my now deceased friend went to centrelink to get help, she had cancer, her husband was caring for her and couldn’t get a carers payment, they told her to go get a job, she was 64 yrs old, a month later, she was dead. Yes, they are very caring…….in our area.

      2 REPLY
      • Never believe someone else’s story. Disability/Sickness Allowance cases can only be assessed on the quality of information given by the treating Doctor. If the doctor doesn’t co operate Centrelink can not just take the customers word. PLUS things like value of assets that YOU aren’t aware of may come into the equation. And if the decision is against you you do have the right to lodge an appeal.

      • My husband died 22 years ago from Cancer; we had four young children and when we went to Centrelink to apply for a disability pension, they said he looked too well and would not process it. Fortunately, the Government doctor disagreed as he was terminal. Not all staff are like that; there are some kind people who work there.

        Cannot understand how people manage to rort the system as any error I made over the years was very quickly picked up and I was the recipient of the nasty “you were overpaid” letter. In those days it was much easier to get through on the phone.

  4. The sheer number of benefits paid and reduction in staff numbers must make it very difficult for Centrelink staff to achieve much at all. Of course many commit fraud but do you inform Centrelink when you know someone is committing fraud? I guess it starts with each of us speaking up. I know for the sake of friendship I haven’t dobbed in the single mother claiming benefits while living with an extremely well paid man, but at the same time she was doing this over a period of years my next door neighbour who was legit was being investigated as she ‘dressed too well’.

    13 REPLY
    • Friendship should have nothing to do with, if you know someone who is breaking the law & do nothing about it you are enabling her to defraud us tax payers, if people know about these people & do nothing then don’t complain about the problem,

    • Yes I agree and I would do it now, but then as a new person in a new place I didn’t and nor did any of the other people who knew. That is a major part of the problem, these people are a member of the family, a best friend, doing it tough and basically many people just never dob or just regard it as none of their business.

    • I know someone like that too. He gave his sisters address to Centrelink while living with his partner and fathering 3 kids for which she claimed single parent pension. She had 4 other kids by 2 other fellows. She claimed for 7 kids. All kids are grown up now and no longer eligible. She told me they were reported but said that Centrelink said they could continue with their benefits.

    • I think one of the problems is when people do dob and nothing happens. Staff numbers are often so low in Government departments they don’t have enough staff to investigate these sorts of things.

    • I informed centrelink of a case of fraud…as far as i know that fraud is still continuing….single mother getting benefits working 6 days a week and living in a defacto relstionship. So you tell me does complaining stop the practice….apparently not.

    • Joan I used to work in a government area and working through an investigation, takes time, staff and often if the case goes to court, then to appeal a bucket load of money. It is frustrating for all involved trying to stop things like this. Unfortunately too when staff cuts come it is generally these back room operations that are cut to the bone as it is the front room service areas that have to take the remaining staff.

    • I have and know people who have reported the fraud and all they do is send out paperwork for this fraudsters to fill out

    • There is a fraud line where you can provide as much info as possible and also remain anonymous if you prefer. Turning a blind eye does not help anyone. The more information on a particular situation the better for the investigators. Centrelink receive many complaints regarding roots however they need clear, concise details to be able to

    • …… be able to investigate and fraud that may have occurred. Sometimes there are other circumstances not known of by the complainer that will affect or not affect the outcome. Essentially the more detailed information the better. Due to privacy laws the person who provided the information will not be advised of any outcome.

    • Make them work for the money they get we have to as workers plenty of work in areas like meals on wheels,picking up rubbish daily so why should they not work the amounts of hours if able of course to cover the pay they are being given

    • I also know someone who cheated Centrelink for 28 years and im sorry today I didnt dob her in. Too late now as shes on the age Pension. Dont know her circumstances anymore.

    • Years ago when I was on the sole parent pension I was reported to Centrelink for looking after children at home. I was doing family day care and reporting to Centrelink every fortnight. They came out to investigate, inspected all my bank statements & payslips. Naturally because I was honest all the numbers matched with their records, but it didn’t stop me from feeling horrible.

  5. where do these silly stories come from

    1 REPLY
    • i am in spain every cent my friend recieves after 45years working in australia his pension is reduced 50cents in the dollar for every dollar he gets from his spanish pension both the spanish and australian government know efote he does when he gets a pension increase from here or there

  6. I have no complaints about them. Always find them helpful. On one occasion they made a blue with our pension and when I notified them it was fixed within 48 hours with a full refund into our account and an apology for the mistake.

  7. I quote, “Social welfare is one of the highest expenses for the government, in fact last year it was the highest spend for every tax payer dollar”. Personally, I’d like to see a comparison of the numbers & costs of the social welfare system & the politicians (government) themselves. THEN we would get a clearer indication of WHICH group is costing the TAXPAYER the most!

    20 REPLY
    • I’m with you. Let’s see what it costs us to have the politicians. All their perks, allowances, cars, offices, staff, travel allowances, etc etc etc.

    • Not surprised Sue lol! The “age of entitlement is over”…for everyone who needs it…but not for those who don’t need it eg. the POLITICIANS themselves!!!!!!

    • They never answer questions on how much money and concessions are gven to the rich end of town and large mining companies etc. I wonder how much Rheinhardt get from our taxes.

    • You have all hit the nail on the head and we all know the answer, which is why they will never answer this question let alone get it asked.

    • to me that woman who got away with rorting for so long, tells me that is a massive failure of the system and your right about Politicians they rort is daily the whole time they are in office

    • As a matter of interest Sue Dodd, did you ask Labor & the other mobs the same question?

    • I et blocked from every Labor F/B page and if I email them ,gt blocked again, Still waiting for a reply to 5 ALP ministers on a question I asked on NBN, BEFORE the Election, BLOCKED Why NOW is it important to fix the problem, needed updating years ago as Scott Morrison said months ago. All these PROBLEMS we are hearing about were there years ago, !!!!!!!!!!!

    • What is included in that figure is the welfare being paid to people on high incomes, but we don’t talk about that, the focus is always on the small % that rort the system. Yes, the system needs to be audited better, but also provided to people that actually need it rather than to buy votes from the well off middle classes. ..

    • I assume you mean those that look after themselves, Why shouldn’t they get some money to bring them above the poverty line,

    • Ruth Hourigan Start with Rudd & Gillard. I read recently Julia is on around $800K P/Y !!!! donation to Adelaide Uni $100k, where she now works, & paid for it, Also Some Education fund overseas ,$300K P/Y and she is in charge, Her & Kevin gave themselves a pay increase before they left, Both have offices Fully staffed etc. Car at airport when they travel . Obscene ,its our money. Also Julia gave ALL retiring Ministers a pay rise AND 6 weeks overseas study leave. With partner, No wonder country is broke .

  8. Centrelink is busy harassing the age pensioner. If they looked into the the great unemployed they would be better off.

  9. I went into Certrelink without an appointment and they were very helpful. I am going back as I will turn 65 shortly and want to make sure my pension starts when it should. Again I will not make an appointment and will go into their office. Keep you posted on what happens

    2 REPLY
    • Make an appointment with a financial adviser at Centrelink. We did when applying for age pension. They were very helpfull and obliging. There is a heap of paperwork to fill in. Get it before you go in and fill it in before you go. Do it weeks ahead so you get the pension when you TURN 65.

    • Yes I have heard this. It is no point me making an appointment with a financial planner as I have been living on my Super for the past 18 months as I could not get anything out of Centrelink as my husband still works.

  10. I have recently joined the aged pension group and found Centrelink people to be most helpful and polite, no complaint here.

    15 REPLY
    • I agree Gail, we too have just joined the aged pension group. It took awhile to get my husband sorted but that was only because we had a family trust and a company to close down as we no longer had our business.

    • I too found myself using centrelink the first time at 64,found them to be very helpful and was treated with respect, but then again, I treated them with respect.

    • Same here. Prefer going in than using the phone system. Also have trouble online but just go in and they help me.

    • We are not complaining about their courtesy but about the complete lack of organisation and time management within the system

    • I believe this post is more about the system and its management, or rather mis-management as opposed to the people at the front line. Having said that, there is no reason that the phone snd online services should be so poor, in fact, I don’t know anyone who’s dealt with Centrelink that has had a smooth running, norr do I know any business that’s less accountable – no checks and balances at the end of the day? Disgraceful! And you and I are paying for it!

    • We were told that there is no one at our local office that deals with Disability pensions. We have to talk on the phone. 90 mins. wait. Yeah I am not able to hold on to a phone that long and the call back is a laugh

    • I have no complaints about the staff but the system is broken..the staff can only do their best and they do that, they have recently been on strike because of poor working conditions

    • Well i had loads of trouble with my address change, I didnt actually move from my house, it was just that the numbers had been wrong, and getting thme to understand that was just beyond them, its still going on, and I have been cut off a measly $147 per year payment for my CPAP machine running costs because they say I have changed address. I have written, rung and gone it…. still no help…. Its really just understaffed and if you have a problem that isnt listed anywhere via phone or online you can never get the problem looked at.

    • I retired about 18 months ago and Centrelink couldn’t have been more helpful, both when I went into the office and on the phone. I called on the Seniors line and left my number for them to call back, which they did, each time within the time frame they had quoted.

    • I have had no problems with Centrelink, They have a good setup over there in the Port. I am on an aged pension and when I set it up a few years they were really obliging.

    • I agree, my local MPs have always been out & about , they attend all the kids functions, pensioner dos etc, I haven’t got a clue who is Labor in my electorate, state or federal, never ever had letter or pamphlet from them .

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